Archive for the ‘College Media Convention’ Category

our tour group

Visiting Democracy Now! was the highlight of this conference, because of the up-close look we got at the special kind of journalism it produces. Democracy Now! is an independent news program that doesn’t accept money from “advertising, underwriting or government agencies.” As a result, it reports on many issues or delves deeper into issues that are often neglected by more traditional news organizations. For example, on the day we visited, the hosts spent two-thirds of the broadcast interviewing people knowledgeable about the US-backed Saudi Arabian war in Yemen, including a Yemeni human rights activist who had testified on Capitol Hill earlier this week.

What’s surprising about the space of an organization that reaches so many people is that it’s quite small, and much of that space is taken up by the studio and the control room. However, Democracy Now! is broadcast on over 1,400 radio stations, has hundreds of thousands of television viewers, and translates its online articles into Spanish. We watched the 8:00 a.m. broadcast live, spoke with one of the co-hosts, Nermeen Shaikh, and one of the guests a bit afterward, and later went on a tour of the studio.

They have a team dedicated to producing content in Spanish, which I really appreciated!

The conversation with Shaikh and the guest, William Hartung, director of the Arms and Security Project at the Center for International Research, was particularly interesting because they described how thorough the process of booking guests for the show is and how it differs from that of many traditional media sources, a process I had not considered too deeply.

Shaikh explained that they have about a day to plan a show, which involves doing the relevant research (a big part of which is digging into books – like real, paper books) to find the most knowledgeable people for a given topic, seeing if they’re available, and then doing an interview with them before they visit the show the following day to be interviewed on air.

So. Many. Books! all over the studio, which shows their commitment to thoroughly investigating each topic they report on.

Hartung explained that what distinguishes Democracy Now! from many other news shows on television is the context they provide and the amount of time they allow guests to talk and genuinely delve into an issue and educate an audience on it. Shaikh bluntly stated that you can’t talk about the war in Syria or a similarly convoluted and sensitive topic in five minutes, reflecting the philosophy of Democracy Now!.

Seeing the thoroughness of Democracy Now!, its emphasis on education, and its understanding of news as a service to the public was incredible and thought-provoking. The entire space is filled with books – in the studio, on desks everywhere, and lining all the walls – and they communicate a clear message: news stories occur in a greater context, and it’s critical to do the hard work to understand them in order to report and consume them.

All of us pretending we’re Amy Goodman.

-Dora Totoian





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action air air shooting aircraft

Photo by Oleksandr Pidvalnyi on Pexels.com

The Beacon has a respectable media department, if I do say so myself. As a photographer that works for the Beacon you could argue that my position is biased (in which case you’d be correct), but I also have a unique view of our media arsenal.

We have strong photographers and videographers, but we are lacking severely in one key place, a place that separates us in many ways from “competing” on the professional level: aerial media.

I attended three workshops on drone photography and videography that covered basic drone flight, photo and video production, and legal hurdles during my time at CMA’s conference in New York. A drone would unlock an entire realm of media production that we have yet to experience. For instance, imagine an aerial video shot of Merlo Field from above at kickoff, or a low, fast diving shot through the trees that showcases the campus on the other side.

Aerial shots help give perspective and context to story as much as they provide unique, cinematic angles. For instance, patterns and geometric shapes often emerge from the ordinary at 450 feet in altitude. Further, drone shots are especially good at establishing the size and scope of a subject while giving a fresh perspective.

Logistically speaking, a drone would be very easy to maintain and incorporate into the Beacon’s “arsenal.” The DJI Mavic Pro 2 folds up to fit in the footprint of a composition book, making it easy to transport in a backpack and easy to stow in a drawer. It can be flown from a smartphone and has removable batteries for extend flight time. Spare parts can either be bought from the manufacturer or designed and fabricated in-house by Shiley students.

I had been considering either suggesting that the Beacon purchase a drone or purchasing one myself before the conference, but after attending these workshops I am now thoroughly convinced that the Beacon needs a drone in its media arsenal as I believe it is the next logical step in growing our media department.

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New York City is filled with a constant bustle of activity and an energy that floods your senses. Everything is happening around you as fast or faster than you can take in and interpret it. There is no way you could possibly hope to document it all. To capture what you’re after technically and emotionally in a photo is a venture in mindfulness, which is why New York lends itself particularly well to film photography.

The bulk of the photos I shot on this trip were taken on my Canon FT QL, a 60-year-old film camera with manual focus, manual aperture, fixed film sensitivity, and manual frame advance. No, this wasn’t just my inner Portland hipster coming out, or because I enjoy the darkroom process, but rather because it is very difficult to get a good, fast photo out of a slow, manual camera, which in turn forces me to be a bette photographer.

A large part of being a photo journalist (and a piece of advice the workshops stressed time and time again) is knowing what to take a picture of, how to make it interesting, and when to capture that “money shot,” all of which is a practice of being present, observant, and creative as much as it is about being technically proficient. Using a fully-manual camera forced me to strip down my work to the bare essentials, which in turn yielded far more interesting and print-worthy photos. (Unfortunately, I haven’t developed the rolls of film yet, so the photos shown were instead shot on my Sony A7 digital camera using the manual-focus lenses from my film camera, all while using the same mindset and techniques as if it were a film camera.)


It’s quite hard to reach 88mph in downtown NYC, apparently


This is Oscar and he is very good at skating


They wouldn’t let me drive it 😦


A man waiting for the subway


A shot of traffic from the Brooklyn Bridge


Brooklyn from the Brooklyn Bridge at night

I believe that the reinforcement of these techniques through the conference workshop sessions as well as the practical application during the photo shootout has taught me to not only be a better photographer technically and creatively, but it also taught me how to do more with less.

– Brennan Crowder


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One session from the College Media Association conference that I found interesting was a session on the Society of Professional Journalists Code of Ethics. I think that as journalists, we run into ethical issues all the time and it was really helpful to hear from two speakers who helped create this code of ethics that we follow.

Learning about how the code of ethics came to be and how it evolved over time was fascinating. The speakers emphasized how this code is for all kinds of journalists. They also spoke about how they had to take into account the growing influence of social media when they revised the code of ethics in 2014.


I think what might have been the most valuable part of the session was getting to hear from other student journalists who have dealt with ethical issues and applied the code. I think we do not often deal with huge ethical issues at The Beacon, but you never know when you will be confronted with an important issue that you need to make a decision on quickly. It is reassuring to know we have a code to guide us and the SPJ will take our calls whenever we need advice.

It is critical as journalists that we know our resources and I think that this session helped me to know more about some resources we could use at The Beacon. It is always good to get a refresher on ethics because ethical decisions will have to be made by not just editors, but reporters and photographers as well. It is just part of the job.

Something especially interesting about the session was we were posed with a hypothetical scenario and asked what we would do in the situation. There were many different opinions and arguments from the journalists in the audience but we all used the code of ethics to back up our points.

This session was valuable to me and I look forward to helping ensure that we always keep in mind ethical guidelines at The Beacon!

– Maddie Pfeifer

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On our first full day in New York, we had the opportunity to on a tour of the Financial Times. This was something I was looking forward to because I love being able to see how newsrooms operate. The first thing that struck me when I arrived was that the print copies of the paper were a shade of pink!

I was not super familiar with the Financial Times before visiting the newsroom, but I definitely learned a lot on the tour. We met different members of the staff including editors, reporters, video producers, social media specialists, podcast/audio producers and more. It was cool to see how the newsroom was comprised of people with such varying skills.

This really emphasized to me how many people it takes to have a successful newsroom. It is so important in the constantly changing media landscape that we live in to have people with a variety of skills that are able to innovate and adapt to create the best content using the most effective mediums. I also think the tour of the Financial Times helped me to see the necessity of having multiple skills–not just being able to write but being able to take decent photos or make enticing graphics.

The Financial Times is an international publication which means they are constantly receiving information from all over the globe so they really have to sift through the information to decide what is newsworthy. This showed me how important judgement is when it comes to working in the newsroom because they only have so many employees and they cannot write about every story that comes their way.

Another interesting part of the tour was going into the video production room at the Financial Times. I enjoyed learning about how they shoot videos covering financial/business topics and make them engaging.

Overall, I think something that was emphasized on the tour was how many people who work at the Financial Times will start working on a project that they think has potential and eventually, if they prove themselves, they get support from the company. This was what happened with the video and podcasting departments.

I think that this process applies to college newsrooms as well. As student journalists, we have the opportunity to experiment and we also happen to be pretty tech-savvy, so I think that now is the time for us to be trying new things and learning how to engage more with our audience. The tour of the Financial Times was really informative and inspired me to think about what we can do at The Beacon to really grow and evolve!

– Maddie Pfeifer

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Have you ever gotten that annoying “Storage almost full” message? You know who hasn’t? Bloomberg.


Hosts of a Bloomberg radio show can be seen in the recording studio. Bloomberg’s philosophy of transparency in everything they do manifests itself as glass walls seen throughout the building.

Today, I toured Bloomberg’s global headquarters and was struck by the sheer enormity of their data management situation. Maybe it’s because I’m an engineering major, but I was far more interested in the way Bloomberg actually generated, stored, and distributed their content compared to how they produced it. I mean, it must be an absolute logistical nightmare.

The sheer amount of raw data housed in a single Bloomberg Terminal alone is vast, but to think that the data from one Terminal will be used to generate even more data in the form of audio files for their numerous radio stations and video files for their television segments. Now imagine scaling that up to give nearly 19,000 employees their own Terminal.


Seen above is the “double set” system Bloomberg uses for their TV segments. Two sets are set up perpendicular to each other so multiple segments can be recorded in quick succession.


Granted, they probably don’t actually store all (if any) data permanently onsite, but they still had enormous server rooms on each floor that rivaled the offices and the newsroom in terms of size. They probably transmit data between their New York location and an offsite server warehouse somewhere, but do you know that this also means? Bloomberg must also have some of the greatest WIFI on the planet.

 This makes sense though. Bloomberg built their empire on the Bloomberg Terminal, a system that provides clients with real-time financial market data, buy and sell stock, as well as view descriptions, articles, and contact information for reporters and specialists. The Bloomberg Terminal allows every Bloomberg bureau to seamlessly communicate with one another in real time around the world. Given the volume of data they must handle and the vast swath of land to cover, it’s no wonder Bloomberg has a prime data management system.



Pictured above are two rooms dedicated to housing data servers. Rooms like these are vast and numerous in Bloomberg’s headquarters.

It was a once in a lifetime opportunity to tour Bloomberg, and for that I am grateful. Mr. Bloomberg, if you’re reading this, thank you for the tour and warm welcome (and don’t forget that you still owe me a selfie).

– Brennan Crowder


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CMA 2018 facebook award group

Holding our Best Facebook Page (2nd Place) Award Front L to R: Annika Gordon, Hannah Sievert, Nat Rubio-Licht, Clare Desmarais, adviser Nancy Copic Back row L to R: Kyle Garcia, Connor Lorber, Sam Cushing

There’s nothing like taking seven student journalists to a media convention in New York. This year’s College Media Association conference left these Beacon staffers energized, inspired and more knowledgeable. Here are just a few of the takeaways they shared with me and the rest of The Beacon staff. (more in their own blog posts here)

Natalie Rubio-Licht, reporter:

  1. There are a lot of different ways to get the information you need to write a story. Make a list of all possible resources and reach out to as many as necessary. For example; social media posts, cell phone videos, audio, texts between students, documents, first-hand accounts, police/medical/campus reports, second-hand accounts. Do not use anonymous unless there is a real need to!
  2. Historically, there are different phases of coverage of POC (people of color): exclusionary phase, threatening issue phase, confrontation phase: creates social tension, stereotypical news selection phase. Colleges are often stuck in the stereotypical news selection phase: example, rarely report about POC outside of their holidays or heritage months
  3. There are a lot of simple mistakes that people make during interviews without actually noticing. One panel highlighted some deadly sins of interviewing, including: questions with no query, compound questions/too many at once, trigger words, too much sharing–the interview is about them, judgement in question, and closed questions that should be open.


Kyle Garcia, sports editor

  1. Focus on building a narrative–if there’s a story to be told in your story, then tell it in a compelling and meaningful way. Don’t just write facts, but instead use the facts to help supplement the bigger story.
  2. Always be observant–there are stories out there, but it’s up to you to look for them and stay vigilant.
  3. Know who you’re interviewing–There’s no formula for interviewing people that applies to everyone. Understand what kind of person you’re interviewing and let that guide your interview.

Connor Lorber, videographer:

  1. From the photo contest- Don’t be afraid to go and talk to people. Being shy can lead to great stories/photos being lost because you were too afraid to talk to someone.
  2. From the gaming guy and the Rolling Stones guy- Do what interests you. Whatever your passion is, work in that area. You will create better content when you are excited to be creating that content.
  3. From Lauren Duca- Don’t be afraid of the ‘backlash’ from doing something out of the ordinary. Traditionally, journalists don’t share their voices/brand as much as Lauren does, and while she does get a lot of death threats/criticism from voicing her opinion, she is passionate about the movement she is sharing her voice on.

Lauren Duca tweet

Annika Gordon, multimedia editor:

  1. We have to stay professional because the world out there knows and recognizes us.
  2. In interviews, ask for names and all other relevant information at beginning AND end of recording just to make sure you have it for real.
  3. Shoot everything that your sources talk about.


Claire Desmarais, reporter:


  • Research stories dealing with diversity or underrepresented groups
  • Never assume
  • Always ask: “Is this offensive? Is this the correct viewpoint?”
  • Don’t make mistakes. You lose trust with your readers from underrepresented groups


  • Body language matters— Mimic what your interviewee is doing with their body because it makes them feel more comfortable. When they lean back, you lean back because they are becoming defensive

Creative/Story Ideas:

  • Think about what makes you angry, and often times there is a story that can be puled from it
  • Talk to people during the day you wouldn’t normally talk to so you can broaden your scope and get a variety of ideas
  • Ask your friends and professors what stories they want to see written

The student photojournalist on the right got maced during a clash over the appearance of Milo Yiannopoulos at her school, University of California, Fullerton.

Hannah Sievert, editor of the Living section:

  • When writing an opinion or column, write what you would rant to your friends about when you see them at dinner, what makes you mad, what you notice, what you would naturally discuss with others.
  • Having a beat is largely about building a relationship with the person in that beat, checking in with them, having them check in with you
  • Write some stories about how we do our reporting, have viewers go behind the scenes, with explanation of who reporting was conducted through link. It encourages reader trust to see what kind of ethics we follow.

The session on using FBI strategies for interviewing was so popular, some Beacon staffers had to sit on the floor.

Sam Cushing, reporter:

  1. When taking photos with your phone for a story (ex. breaking news) make sure to clean your lens, zoom with your feet (get closer), keep an eye on exposure (make sure subject is well lit), center and focus your shot the most important element, and vary your shots. Especially for reporters without much photography experience, and usually use their phone for pictures. Also try different photo apps to optimize settings: Hipstamatic, Filmic Pro.
  2. Develop your stories before you pitch them at meetings.

Before you pitch a story, you should know:

  • Who are you interviewing, and have they agreed to talk to you?
  • Why should I (the reader) care?
  • Why does this matter?
  • Have we (The Beacon) covered this before?

For the pitch itself, highlight what you know and what you don’t know to give your editors as much information as possible to help direct you.

      3. When searching for stories, make sure to engage the community. Meet with people. Attend community events (Use Facebook and other social media to find them).Learn who/what matters to students, faculty, staff and find the story in there Ask for feedback from people you talk to or interviewGet connected – join Facebook groups, follow Instagram and Twitter pages, and ask your followers/friends for story ideas and events to attend.Work non-traditional hours, cool stuff happens on weekends and breaks.

Most of all: Be a person, connect with people and make them want to help you.

A highlight for everyone in our group was meeting up with last year’s editor-in-chief, Malika Andrews, who graduated last May and covers sports for the New York Times. Among her many exciting assignments recently: covering the Super Bowl.

Malika with NYC group 2018

2016-17 Beacon Editor-in-Chief Malika Andrews met up with our group to talk about her job at the New York Times.

Screen Shot 2018-02-07 at 12.16.49 PM


-Nancy Copic

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CMA NYC 2018 started this year for photojournalists with a two hour session regarding the rules of a photo competition. We had two full days to take and submit a photo that screamed New York City with “a moment in time” as the theme and people as the focus.

I cleared my schedule early Friday afternoon and took myself and my camera to Grand Central Terminal. I stood against a railing waiting for a moment and some people. I did not have to wait long.

Shreya and Sagar came literally spinning into view within the next 60 seconds. They were all smiles. They were oh so obviously star-crossed lovers in a magical city. When they finally noticed me, I had at least twenty shots of their dance on my SD card. They gave me their names and we parted ways.


Shreya and Sagar dancing in Grand Central Terminal.

I spotted the Austrian couple, Juergen and Sabrina Harich, by the information desk. They were of the traditional group of tourists with paper maps and questions for humans as their tools for maneuvering the city rather than Apple maps and questions for Siri. Juergen was concentrating so intently on figuring out the subway system that I am sure I could have fired off fifty shots before him noticing my presence, but Sabrina was more observant of her surroundings and stopped me at five. That fifth photo became the one I submitted for the contest.


Juergen and Sabrina Harich feeling lost in Grand Central Terminal.

I snapped a few more photos that day: an older couple and a guard pointing up at the ceiling, a man named Mohammed selling hot dogs, two construction workers taking a break, a pair of friends chatting and smoking on the street, tourists in Times Square, but I only submitted Juergen and Sabrina.

I did not win the competition, but I did not expect to. How could I have with the competition so stiff? The top three photos featured a protest turned riot, a pair of ignored homeless persons and a first kiss.

The speakers and organizers of the competition tore the photos submitted apart. Here’s what I learned was wrong with my photo of Juergen and Sabrina: the man in the bottom left-hand corner was distracting, I should have decreased my shutter speed to let the people in the background go blurry, Sabrina was looking too directly at me, and worst of all was all the dead space up above. It left me thinking that I should have submitted the photo of Shreya and Sagar.

But what I took away from the competition was not that I am a terrible photojournalist. I took away ideas for being a better Multimedia Editor for The Beacon like making the photography team take a group trip to downtown Portland to take pictures of strangers to get them comfortable with taking pictures of and talking to people. Or like basic helpful tips to improve the photography game we’ve got going on. Or like how to work with the equipment you’ve got rather than wishing for the equipment you don’t.

– Annika Gordon

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I have decided that I have exactly two top favorite memories from CMA NYC 2018. The first one is stumbling upon a very random ramen restaurant in SoHo that was too fancy and quiet for the college students that arrived there and had walls made out of stacked books. The second memory is going to a session on International Women’s Day led by three of the leaders of Michigan State University’s newspaper, The State News.

Larry Nassar was MSU’s osteopathic physician. He was the USA Gymnastics national team doctor. Most significantly, he was a child abuser and will be serving time in prison for the rest of his days for his crimes. The State News wrote over 300 articles covering the terror over the last 2 years. They went to the courtroom and stood 10 feet away from Nassar on more than one occasion. They skipped days of school working and writing to make sure their community stayed informed and they did not have much support from their school’s administration to do so. They listened to the powerful words of over 100 victims. And they admitted to the emotional toll the last 2 years had taken on them.

Rachel Fradette, Marie Weidmayer and Madison O’Connor. Those are the names of those three leaders. They are brave and strong young women.

The victims who spoke out were all brave and strong young women.

In New York City, I had the huge honor of meeting up with two former Beaconites. Malika Andrews who now works for The New York Times and Shelby Vaculin at NBC Studios. I am oh so lucky to call them incredible mentors and friends. They are both brave and strong young women.

Malika Andrews, Clare Duffy, Rachel Rippetoe, Olivia Sanchez, Hannah Siervert, and Claire Desmarais. They are the past, present, and future leaders of The Beacon. They are also brave and strong young women.

I walked up to the three editors of The State News at the end of their session. They were getting ready to leave when I told them “Thank you,” when I told them it was not lost on me that the leaders of all the work and hours put into covering the horror of Larry Nassar’s actions were women, when I told them that they were the reason we acknowledge and celebrate International Women’s Day.

What I learned on International Women’s Day at CMA NYC 2018 was this: I have been blessed to have brave and strong young women as role models and, more importantly, I will be one too.

– Annika Gordon


Shelby Vaculin recently moved to New York City to work as a page for NBC Studios.



Malika Andrews works as a reporter for The New York Times’ sports team.

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Another piece of advice from the conference that left me feeling motivated was the importance of social media branding in this day in age. When going into a career as a journalist, it is important to keep a professional twitter, instagram, and facebook that reflect where you work, are well kept and frequently updated, and have many followers. Though I knew the importance of a clean social media presence before I left for the conference, I did not know that follower count could have an impact on your chances of getting a job. Though that made me feel slightly nervous, I realized I am young, and I have time to build up that base and look of professionalism on my accounts through college and my working years. I learned this from two different sessions: “Building your College Media Brand” on Saturday and the Keynote speaker of that day, Lauren Duca, whose tweets have gotten massive attention and even gotten her freelance jobs!

-Natalie Rubio-Licht

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